Curated by Kathleen Gilrain
Bobby Neel Adams, Mike Asente, Barnstormers, Nina Berman, Melissa Dubbin & Aaron S. Davidson, Ron Haviv, Susan Meiselas, Eve Sussman, Patricia Thornley, Sarah Trigg and photographs by anonymous WWII photographers from the collection of Edward C. Graves
February 12th - March 27, 2005
This exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Susan Sontag, a gifted writer and thinker. Her absence from this world will be sorely missed. In her book, "Regarding the Pain of Others" she writes eloquently of the dilemma of recording in pictures the atrocities and absurdity of war. This exhibition is a visual artist's curation of imagery made by other artists about war.
Bobby Neel Adams' portraits of landmine victims in Cambodia and Mozambique hit straight at the heart. "Cambodia has the highest percentage of disabled inhabitants of any country in the world. There are 40,000 amputees in Cambodia and their number is growing at a rate of 6000 per year." - from his book Broken Wings. These respectful and honest photographs make beautifully clear the tragedy that war continues to kill innocent people long after it is over.
Portraits of victims of war is also the subject of Nina Berman's work. These are United States soldiers home from Iraq. Nina is showing twelve images from her series Purple Hearts, Back from Iraq. "Until literacy again resurfaces in our culture I personally believe it will be necessary to push a mix of text and images such as yours into the faces of our contemporaries to awaken them from their comfortable and complacent dreams." Tim Origer – VIETNAM-TET 1968 Veterans For Peace – from her book Purple Hearts, Back from Iraq.
Neither documentary, nor purely abstract experimentation Eve Sussman's Solace, 2001, is both a poetic statement and a recounting of the continuity of daily life while shock gripped people's most mundane acts. Three distinct layers of existence are intertwined: the ever-present TV news; everyday life in the kitchen; and the sublime voice of Kati Agocs singing the 17th century song "Music for a While". Reality and fiction meet in this video mixing a severe moment from real life with the staging of a singer at a breakfast table.
The preeminent photographer Susan Meiselas has documented the wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Kurdistan. This exhibition includes a small selection of truly exquisite photographs from each of these places. Her coverage of insurrection and civil war in Central America was published throughout the world and she was presented with the Robert Capa Gold Medal in 1979 for her work in Nicaragua. Later awards include the Leica Award for Excellence (1982). Meiselas recently completed a six-year project on a visual history of Kurdistan and established a Web site to further that inquiry. www.akaKURDISTAN.com
The Barnstormers are a crew of New York/Tokyo based artists whose work grows out of a fluid improvisational process that weaves layer upon layer and emphasizes non-permanence. In their time lapse "motion painting" film Letter to the President, 2003, the Barnstormers comment on the US administration policy and reasons for going to war.
Patricia Thornley's Seven is a multimedia installation suggesting a "situation room". Laptops with headphones sit on a table facing seven photographs that hang on the wall. Through a menu on the computer the viewer is invited to select a photograph to investigate. This work is timely in it's use of found elements such as intercepted Iraqi cell phone messages, and in it's reflection of the current cultural atmosphere of fear and alienation.
Mike Asente – "I embroider/sew as a means to remove myself from trumped up visual images I might come up with through photography, painting, or other more traditional art making means. I use the thread and needle to pull together conflicting viewpoints regarding male stereotypes based on my contradictory experiences growing up in the hard male combat community of the military. My father was a career combat Army officer and a Special Forces soldier. I came up in an environment of the "hard charger", "never a quitter", measured by my body, and my willingness to use it. I know exactly what my father's contemporaries would have to say about me now that I choose the role of artist and one that "sews".
Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S. Davidson have created drawings using military maps of strategic plans of attack. With the maps removed, the mark making becomes abstract drawing that brings to mind weather patterns or navigational maps. Several wars are combined in one drawing - the attack on Pearl Harbor at the top turns into strategies in Europe and then to Vietnam. Also included here is an animated version of one of their drawings.
Sarah Trigg makes gouache paintings that are aerial views of the sites where US bombs have been dropped on Iraq during our current war "Iraqi Freedom". In this series, she continues her work from an earlier investigation into the Gulf War bombings - when we were encouraged to believe that we were getting full disclosure on the events of the war through satellite pictures of bombs dropped on "their intended military targets".
Ron Haviv, a war photographer who is famous for his work in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Panama and Iraq shows a DVD projection of his still images with sound. At times the sound is an actual live recording of the moment that the picture was taken. This sound with still image is somehow more powerful than video. Perhaps it is because we are able to focus on one image while the sound stimulates our imagination. Two books and many years of photojournalism on the front line makes this multimedia installation a true war photographers journal.
The exhibition also includes an astounding selection of photographs by anonymous WWII photographers from the collection of Edward C. Graves. These photographs are hauntingly beautiful and astonishingly horrible.